Although the Mayans never completely vanished—their ancestors may still be found across Central America—dozens of main urban centres in the Yucatan peninsula's lowlands, such as Tikal, deteriorated from busy city to abandoned ruins over the space of a century. Other towns, such as Chichén Itzá, likely became ghost towns after similar periods of abandonment.
The Mayan civilization was among the most advanced in the New World when it emerged about 500 A.D. From its northern reaches in present-day Canada to its southern extremity in Mexico, it extended hundreds of miles along both the eastern and western coasts of what is now America. Its cities were adorned with large temples where priests performed religious rituals and scholars pored over books written in an ancient form of Spanish.
But by 250 A.D., the Mayans were gone. No longer occupying any one spot on the map, their remnants spread out over an area larger than England. In fact, until Europeans started exploring North America many years later, no one knew anything about the Mayans except through stories told by indigenous people.
Why did the Mayans disappear? There are several theories, but none that are fully accepted by scientists. Some think they were defeated by a more powerful tribe while others claim they simply moved south into warmer climates.
All of them have some degree of overlap. In the 1500s, the Aztecs and Incas were still present. The Mayans are still alive today, but they abandoned their cities long before humans arrived. The archaeological record, on the other hand, has some really strange findings. For example, there are parts of Mexico that were probably inhabited by the Mayans for hundreds of years, but no one knows who was living there until very recently.
The fact is, we know very little about pre-Columbian America. All we really have are some pretty amazing artifacts that have been found through archaeology. There are many theories about what happened to the people who lived here, but none of them are sure. All we can do is look at the evidence that has been left behind and try to make an educated guess.
Inca civilization: 1272-1532. One of the most powerful empires in pre-Columbian America. It included areas of north-central Mexico as well as parts of central and southern Peru. The Inca were known for their engineering skills - they built roads, bridges, and ramps up mountainsides to allow for easy travel by caravans. They also used a lot of copper when building their tools and objects. However, they lacked a true system of writing, so historians have a hard time recording history from this era.
Mayan civilization: 200 BC-AD 1692.
The Maya's Mysterious Decline The classic towns of the southern lowlands were abandoned one by one, and by A.D. 900, the Maya civilisation in that region had crumbled. Finally, the Classic Maya civilisation may have been killed off by a catastrophic environmental shift, such as an extraordinarily long, intense period of drought.
The cause of the Maya collapse has been a subject of debate among scholars. Some argue that there was no single event that caused the collapse, but rather that many factors contributed over time. Among these factors they cite warfare against non-Maya peoples, such as the Toltecs; epidemics, such as those brought by Europeans; and changes in farming practices or deforestation that reduced the amount of food available to the people.
Another theory suggests that the Maya civilisation collapsed due to internal violence. Some archaeologists believe that the Classic Maya elite became increasingly divided between those who maintained the traditional way of life and those who wanted to adopt new technologies and habits. These divisions may have led to wars between groups within the Maya population, which would have defeated even the most powerful cities.
Yet another factor that has been suggested is that the climate changed around AD 800-1000, causing widespread crop failure and famine that may have been the ultimate cause of the Maya collapse. Archaeologists have found evidence of severe drought throughout the Southern Lowlands at this time.
In the early 1980s, Antonio Silvestre escaped Guatemala's poverty and civil unrest and became one of the first Maya Indians to live in this little farming village northwest of West Palm Beach. Thousands of Mayans have discreetly developed villages in Indiantown and other sections of southern Florida nearly two decades later. Although they claim to be seeking only safe land on which to build their homes and raise their families, many remain covertly opposed to the government and practice shamanism without permission.
Florida has been called the "Mayan Riviera" because of its relatively mild climate and abundance of natural resources. The state is also rich in ancient archeological sites that date back as far as 1000 B.C. In addition to the Mayans, Spanish settlers arrived in Florida in 1565. They brought with them horses, cattle, wheat, and other goods not found in Mexico at the time. The tribes living here at that time included the Timucua, Guale, and Aruacalawee. In 1763, Spain transferred control of Florida to England, and five years later America gained ownership of the territory.
There are still several thousand Indians living in Florida. Most are Mayans who have moved into the state since Antonio Silvestre first came here. Others are Guales, Aruacs, and Timuquas.
Tikal Tikal, an ancient Maya metropolis in modern-day Guatemala, existed between 600 B.C. and A.D. 900. It began as a humble chain of hamlets and grew into a powerful Maya city-state with over two dozen large pyramids. The largest pyramid at Tikal is El Caracol (the Snail) at 72 feet high and 120 feet wide.
The Mayas lived in spacious houses made of wood and thatch or stone and thatch. They had electricity before it was discovered by Europeans. They also had a sophisticated system of writing called hieroglyphics which has never been successfully translated. Although most of their cities were destroyed during the Spanish invasion, some structures such as the Pyramids at Tikal are still standing to this day.
In conclusion, the Mayas built magnificent buildings and cities but they were not the first people to do so. History shows that many other civilizations have come and gone before them.
The Maya are an indigenous people of Mexico and Central America who have lived continuously throughout modern-day Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco, and Chiapas in Mexico, as well as Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras. They may have developed these skills independently over time but most likely received training from outside sources.
The Maya built large cities that were used as political and religious centers for many years after their initial construction. The largest city by far is Tikal, which at its peak was home to 20,000 people. It is believed that this huge population must have been supported by about 150 smaller towns spread across southern Mexico and northern Guatemala.
Tikal is located in the jungles of what was once a beautiful green forest but now contains many large excavated areas because the Maya built their cities out in the open with houses on stilts surrounded by water. The center of Tikal is dominated by a large pyramid called the Temple of Inscriptions. This was probably where the leaders made important decisions for the city during ritual ceremonies.
The Maya developed a unique writing system around 250 BC that allowed them to document important events such as wars or victories.